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Waves of controversy after diverse casting

By Andrew Duval November 10, 2022

After it was announced that African American actress and songwriter Halle Bailey would be playing Ariel in the new live-action remake of the Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” users on a variety of social media platforms have been voicing their opinions.

Since Ariel was depicted as a white character in the original animated film, the casting caused outrage among many fans for a variety of reasons. According to Forbes, some fans believed that Ariel should not be black because of scientific reasons. They claimed that

Dana Lim art

due to the fact that there are low levels of sunlight underwater, there would therefore be low levels of melanin present in mermaids, leading to a paler complexion. They also claimed that the casting of actors for this new movie should be the same race as the characters in the original film.

“Those who are familiar with the source material may feel disrespected that the character they admire underwent what they see as an unnecessary transformation,” Junior Michael Leong said.

However, these arguments were fiercely rebuked with the opinion that since “The Little Mermaid” is a fantasy movie meant for young children and mermaids do not exist, claims related to scientific realism are invalid. Furthermore, they believe that the ethnicity of the actor would be unimportant to child viewers. In fact, many children reacted positively to the casting, with numerous videos of black children expressing enthusiasm for a character of the same race as them flooding the internet. Supporters of “The Little Mermaid’s” diversity casting argued that the representation Bailey’s casting brings to black children everywhere outweighs debates over scientific accuracy.

“It is great that modern-day producers are trying to incorporate more diversity into the film industry, as representation for all races is very important in mainstream media. However, there are others I have talked to who see forced diversity as a negative impact, as they believe that changing the race of the character could come across as belittling,” Freshman Raahil Sengupta said.

Changing the race of a character could also come across as pandering in the case of tokenism to some. This is when “characters from marginalized groups exist only to portray a certain race, usually in an inaccurate, stereotypical fashion, rather than for the sake of being inclusive,” according to The State Press.

“If an actor being black significantly changes the main character, a new role should be made instead and diversity should not be forced,” Junior Abhay Dharnidharka said.

Dharnidharka shows yet another viewpoint within this controversy, suggesting that instead of remaking old movies and television with a diverse cast, companies should just create new media and make those casts diverse. Many movies and shows have been made with more diverse casts recently, such as a new Scooby Doo cartoon called “Velma” by HBO and “The Rings of Power.” “Lord of the Rings” fans were disappointed with the diverse casting in “The Rings of Power.” As more forms of media are diversified due to social change, consumers will have to confront this issue of representation in media and determine how to go about diverse casting and representation of races in the media.


About the Contributors

Andrew Duval

Staff Writer

Andrew Duval is a Freshman writer for The Charger Account. He spends his spare time surfing Wikipedia, reading, and editing videos.

Dana Lim


Dana Lim is a sopohmore at Leland High School and a artist for The Charger Account. During her free time she likes to binge watch tv shows or take naps :)

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